Cozart has been steady, but lead-off is not his spot. (Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE)

As Reds Continue to Win, Does the Trade Chatter Dwindle?

It shouldn’t. Not one bit. That’s my quick opinion on the matter, and I will go out on a limb and say many others hold that same view. There’s plenty of room on this limb, too.

I’ll add this, too: It better not.

Two games into the second half of the season and the Reds have notched a pair of victories in two different fashions. One, and be honest, the Reds were gifted the 5-3 come-from-behind win on Friday night. Second, Ryan Ludwick struck a slight matter of revenge against his former organization with an extra inning, walk-off home run.

So with these wins, does it cover or disguise obvious needs? Again, it shouldn’t. Yes, I’m on a different limb now, but I know there are others that will follow me out here and there are others that await our arrival. Actually, I’m only the guide. I was there before 2012 began.

Reds GM Walt Jocketty (Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE)

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of joining Tyler Bloyd and Jon Hancock of 1450 The Weekend Sports Buzz (which you can catch the archived video here on KentuckySports.co), Tyler asked me what should we expect from the Reds in the second half of 2012. Part of my response was that if the Reds do not make a trade, expect more of the same. Makes sense, doesn’t it? No change is just that, right?

Of course, there are conflicting theories here.

One, the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” theory grinds on many a baseball fan. We Reds fans have seen that over the last two seasons. It was broke and it was never fixed even if just on a rental basis. This leads to clouded judgment. The good veils the not-so-good.

Two, you have to be aggressive in improving your roster. While GM Walt Jocketty did improve the Reds roster over the winter, it was mostly from a pitching perspective. I felt that there was still work to be done, and it should be no surprise that it was on the offensive end. Our own Tyler Grote addressed this lineup situation prior to the beginning of this season.

Tyler is looking the role of “smart guy” guy now…

If you’re trying to improve your roster, the guys in the clubhouse become invigorated with the possibility of making the postseason. That is of extreme importance. As they say, perception is reality.

And I like the second option…a lot.

If you were watching (and listening to the game on FOX yesterday, Ken Rosnethal suggested an extremely valid point. While the Reds rotation has performed well, maybe even beyond expectations thus far, it might be unreasonable to expect this performance for the remainder of the season. Regression should actually be expected. How do you offset that regression? He suggested more offense.

My perception is this Reds offense could use some tinkering and not just from switching up some positions within the batting order. Why is this? We’ve seen the numbers. We know that Reds leadoff batters (primarily Zack Cozart and Drew Stubbs) have been unable to do well. It’s not all on them. Sure, they need to “step it up”, but seriously think about this.

Cozart is a rookie. He has limited experience as a leadoff hitter while in the minors. Stubbs has been tried (and replaced) as the leadoff hitter during the last three seasons. As far as #2, that does seem to be a home for Cozart. Stubbs started off on a tear at the slot, but he is in a funk of proportions that would send many a player to the pine. Put them in a place to be successful. Believe it or not, there are other options on this roster. They may not be the best of options, but use what you got and use them correctly.

If you extract these two from their current slots of leadoff and second, you have to replace them. Cozart at #2 seems most likely. As for the top spot…

For those that believe Brandon Phillips is the answer at the top, I hesitate there. Right now, he’s providing good offense from the clean-up spot. No, he’s by far your typical clean-up guy, but he’s being productive (slash of .300/.340/.457 with 10 HR and 48 RBI). Like to see the SLG a little higher from your clean-up guy, too. Not near the complaints from his performance at the spot versus what the Reds were getting. Only if Walt can bring in a bona fide clean-up guy do I make this move…or we see Ryan Ludwick begin to mash at a greater rate and improve upon his .239 batting average.

Some have called for Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce to be in that spot. I hesitate far more with Frazier than Bruce. Bruce did so last year, but the results weren’t that spectacular. He was better at #5. Frazier? He might be able to save one life, but expecting that for an entire franchise may be too much.

The bottom line is this…

In reverting back to Tyler’s post from this past off-season, the offense was barely addressed. We are now seeing the effects of such.

Make a move, but not just any move. Lead-off, clean-up or a lefty bench bat. I’ll take all three if possible, but pulling off at least two (lead-off and lefty bench bat) is practically a necessity if we want the Reds to plan a party at Fountain Square.

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